Theirs was a friendship founded on the pews of St Andrew’s Church and fuelled by a shared interest in real estate and antiques.
Harcourts realtor Peter Fox-Worthington and Cambridge’s Lois Kitchingman became firm friends after meeting at a St Andrew’s service some years ago. When she died unexpectedly on April 16, Peter wanted to remember her in a special way, so he dedicated his near-completed summer pavilion to Lois. A tiny plaque bearing her name and attached to the pavilion wall was ceremonially toasted at an Easter Monday garden party Peter and his family hosted at their home the day before Lois’s funeral on April 23.
Earlier this month, Lois’s widower Athol said she would have been delighted as much by the gesture as by the pavilion with its grand columns and marble.
Both Lois and Peter shared a passion for antiques and style. “She would have loved it and would have been very happy to be remembered in this way,” Athol said.
Lois, 83, enjoyed numerous careers, among them time spent in the political arena. That was a field she entered almost accidentally after joining a group of women seeking to change the status quo of the day and allow women to drink alongside men in pubs.
Those at her funeral service heard how the then Lois Morris won the National Party’s candidacy for Otahuhu in the 1975 elections and went on to be appointed by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to the Tourist Hotel Corporation Board, overseeing some of New Zealand’s finest establishments. She was also appointed to both the committee for women which oversaw all new legislation as it affected women, and to the Equal Opportunities Tribunal which helped break the “glass ceiling” that saw Air New Zealand male and female cabin crew finally attain pay parity. At another election campaign, she became Rob Muldoon’s Tamaki campaign manager.
After an early job selling building society shares, Lois moved into the real estate industry, once again testing the norms of the era. It became a successful and enduring career, with Lois becoming the first woman elected to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) Committee. Both she and Athol – whom she married in 1991 – finished their real estate careers as honorary retiree members of REINZ.
Peter said Lois had helped him in his own real estate career. “And like me, she loved antiques. We had such a lot in common … we became firm friends as soon as we met.”
He described Lois as petite, quick-minded and immensely knowledgeable, and said Lois and Athol have been like grandparents to his daughters, Robin and Poppy. Both Athol and Lois had been invited to the garden party, Peter said, but with Lois’s sudden death, it seemed appropriate to dedicate the summer pavilion to her.